Great American Beer Festival attendees clink glasses outside Upslope Brewing Co.’s booth during the 2017 festival at the Colorado Convention Center. Pictured with glasses in hand from left to right are Austin Grissom, David Kolodziej, Daniel Currens, Al Panicucci and Al’s wife, Kathy Panicucci. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Denver Post)

This year’s Great American Beer Festival, scheduled for Sept. 24-26 at the Colorado Convention Center, will now be pushed back to Oct. 16-17 and will pivot to become an “immersive online experience,” the Brewers Association announced today.

More than 60,000 people and 800 breweries attended the 2019 GABF, pouring more than 4,000 different beers and generating an estimated $35.3 million in local consumer spending, according to Visit Denver. But with Gov. Jared Polis’ decision to turn the Colorado Convention Center into a temporary overflow medical facility due to the coronavirus outbreak, the 2020 festival became “infeasible,” the Brewers Association said.

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“While we are disappointed to not be gathering in Denver this fall for the craft beer community’s annual big tent event, the health and safety of our attendees, brewers, volunteers, judges and employees is and always has been our top priority,” Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association, said in a press release. “As the world is still greatly affected by the spread of COVID-19 and will continue to be affected for the foreseeable future, we must stay true to our priorities and pursue other ways to host GABF.”

The festival’s competition component will still happen, the organization said, with a panel of 100 judges who will assess more than 7,000 expected entries. Brewery registration opens June 9.

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It’s too early to tell whether GABF will be able to host any in-person events this year, but the Brewers Association hopes that the “spirit of the festival will live on through live and virtual experiences with beer lovers and breweries nationwide October 16-17, 2020,” according to the release. “The event is still in planning, but experiences will likely include beer tastings, conversations with brewers, local brewery activations, and at-home beer and food pairing deliveries.”

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